All About Pets

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How to find a reputable dog breeder

Millions of households across North America have one or more pets residing within. Of the furry friends completing families, nearly half are dogs. While many prospective pet owners are now adopting dogs from overcrowded shelters, there are still those who prefer raising a purebred dog with a confirmed lineage. The best method for getting a purebred dog is from a highly regarded private breeder.

There are different avenues for purchasing a purebred. Because of convenience and proximity to home, one of the first places people look are area pet stores. While there are many reputable pet stores, many more rely on puppy mills to stock their animals. According to The Humane Society of America, pet stores do sell puppy mill puppies in spite of what they may tell prospective customers. That's because most private breeders follow a code of ethics that includes a refusal to sell dogs to commercial sources of distribution. Some puppy mills are USDA-licensed and provide "papers" on the dogs. But licensing doesn't mean that the facility is operating properly. In fact, some still operate despite facing violations.

The only way to ensure a pup is free from genetic disorders or parasites or has been tested for diseases such as giardia and brucellosis, as well as confirm that a dog will have a certain temperament, is by working with a private breeder. Many breeders are diligent in their careful breeding of dogs to produce offspring that are both healthy and true to the characteristics of the particular breed.

However, there are some bad eggs among breeders. Finding the best breeder requires some careful consideration.

* Go to a dog show and speak with some of the owners of champion dogs to find out if there are any breeders offering dogs for purchase. Another avenue is to visit the American Kennel Club® Web site and search the Breeder Referral page.

* Make an appointment to talk to the breeder and see his or her facility. Many breeders do so part-time, so it may take some time to receive a call back. Do not be discouraged.

* Find out when litters will be available so that you can visit. You also will want to visit the breeder prior and ask to see the parents and check the condition of the home or kennel.

* Ask questions of the breeder, including how long he or she has been in business as well as how often litters are bred. This will help you determine if the breeder is overtaxing dogs or simply in it for the money.

* A knowledgeable breeder will know a lot of information about the breed and should be able to tell you the science behind breeding one particular dog versus another. The breeder should be able to explain the good and bad points of a particular breed, including the breed standards. It should be their goal to educate you about the breed, not simply sell you a dog.

* A quality breeder should be able to provide you with a pedigree of the puppies, not just registration papers. The pedigree will list several generations of the puppy's ancestors. He or she should also be willing to share proof of health screenings, such as OFA and CERF certificates.

* Pay attention to the way the dogs interact with the breeder. Does he or she seem to genuinely care for the adult dogs and puppies? The dogs should not shy away or be shy around strangers, either.

* Most breeders breed dogs with the intention of furthering their breeding programs to advance their purebred dogs. Therefore, a good breeder usually keeps one or two of the puppies. If the breeder offers to sell you all of them, it could be a red flag.

* A good breeder may offer a lifetime guarantee on the dog and will offer to take the animal back unconditionally if you are no longer able to care for it. He or she can also offer to be a mentor for information on the dog and may be open to periodic visits.

* The breeder should provide a written contract with a health guarantee. He or she also may mandate that the dog be spayed or neutered if it's being kept as a pet. Otherwise, there may be stipulations as to how the dog may be bred to keep with the standards of its pedigree. A dog sold to be bred may come at a higher price tag and may have extra rules specified in the contract.

* Breeders should be as interested in having their dogs go to good homes as you are interested in finding a good breeder. They may require a lot of specific information about how you plan to house and care for the pet.

People who have their hearts set on a purebred dog should seek a quality breeder who is knowledgeable and honest as the only source for puppy purchase.

Gadsden Times